For the 109th edition of Paris-Roubaix, which will take place on Sunday 10th April over a 258-km route, 25 teams have been invited to take starter’s orders in Compiègne.
Amongst the regulars on the great cobbled classic, four former winners are planning on being present: Fabian Cancellara will be trying to retain his title, accompanied by Stuart O’Grady and Tom Boonen, but also Frédéric Guesdon, who triumphed in 1997. Six others, who have also climbed onto the podium, will be in attendance planning to move their way up the standings: Thor Hushovd, in his rainbow jersey, Filippo Pozzato, Alessandro Ballan, George Hincapie, Juan-Antonio Flecha and Roger Hammond.
Main contenders (as of 3rd March)
AG2R La Mondiale : Mondory (FRA), Elmiger (SWI) ; BMC Racing Team : Ballan (ITA), Hincapie, Phinney (USA), Burghardt (GER) ; Euskaltel-Euskadi : Aramendia (ESP) ; HTC-HighRoad : Eisel (AUT), Goss (AUS) ; Katusha Team : Pozzato (ITA), Hoste (BEL) ; Lampre-ISD : Hondo (ITA) ; Liquigas-Cannondale : Sagan (SVQ) ; Team Leopard-Trek : Cancellara (SWI), O’Grady (AUS) ; Movistar Team : Rojas (ESP) ; Omega Pharma-Lotto : Roelandts (BEL) ; Pro Team Astana : Vaitkus (LTU), Davis (AUS) ; Quick Step Cycling Team : Boonen, Steegmans (BEL) ; Rabobank Cycling Team : Boom (NED), Breschel (DEN) ; Saxo Bank Sungard : Cooke (AUS) ; Sky Procycling : Flecha (ESP), Hagen (NOR), Wiggins (GBR) ; Team Garmin-Cervélo : Hushovd (NOR), Farrar (USA), Haussler (AUS), Hammond (GBR) ; Team RadioShack : Hunter (RSA), McEwen (AUS) ; Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team : Devolder (BEL) ; Cofidis, le crédit en ligne : Ista (BEL) ; Team Europcar : Haddou, Turgot (FRA) ; FDJ : Guesdon, Offredo, Bonnet (FRA) ; Bretagne-Schuller : Lebon (FRA) ; Team Netapp : Baumann (GER) ; Saur-Sojasun : Coyot, Casper (FRA) ; Skil-Shimano : Veelers (NED)
The organisers of the 109th Paris(Compiègne)-Roubaix yesterday carried out reconnoitring of the route, which this year will undergo several modifications.
In fact, with the double aim of preserving the 70 kilometres of cobbles available in the north and to avoid immobilising the route, the race, which will take place on 10th April, will make a significant incursion into the area around Valenciennes and will pass through the sectors of Aulnoy-lez-Valenciennes and Famars. The riders will also discover the Millonfosse section (1,400 m) 4,500 metres from the exit from the Trouée d’Arenberg. This sequence positioned at 70 kilometres away from the finishing line should be one of the strategic moments of the race.
In total, the riders will cross 31 sectors, totalling 53.4 kilometres, scattered all along the 258-kilometre route of the race.
The day before, the Paris-Roubaix Challenge, taking place between Saint-Quentin (Aisne) and the mythical Roubaix cycling stadium, will pass along the last 16 sectors on the menu for the professionals, allowing almost 4,000 amateur cyclists to discover the trials and tribulations of “The Hell of the North”.
The Cobbles zones
KM / Place / Length
98 Troisvilles à Inchy 2,2
104,5 Viesly à Quiévy 1,8
107,5 Quiévy à Saint-Python 3,7
112 Saint-Python 1,5
120 Vertain à St-Martin-sur-Ecaillon 2,3
126,5 Capelle-sur-Ecaillon à Ruesnes 1,7
137 Artres à Préseau 1,9
142,5 Aulnoy-lez-Valenciennes - Famars 2,6
146 Famars à Quérénaing 1,2
149,5 Quérénaing à Maing 2,5
152,5 Maing à Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon 1,6
164 Haveluy à Wallers 2,5
172,5 Trouée d'Arenberg 2,4
179 Millonfosse à Bousignies 1,4
183,5 Brillion à Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes 1,1
186,5 Tilloy à Sars-et-Rosières 2,4
192,5 Beuvry-la-forêt à Orchies 1,4
197,5 Orchies 1,7
204 Auchy-lez-Orchies à Bersée 2,6
209,5 Mons-en-Pévèle 3
215,5 Mérignies à Avelin 0,7
218,5 Pont-Thibaut à Ennevelin 1,4
224 Templeuve - L'Epinette 0,2
224,5 Templeuve - Moulin-de-Vertain 0,5
231 Cysoing à Bourghelles 1,3
234 Bourghelles à Wannehain 1,1
238,5 Camphin-en-Pévèle 1,8
241 Carrefour de l'Arbre 2,1
243,5 Gruson 1,1
250 Willems à Hem 1,4
257 Roubaix 0,3
Distance totale des secteurs pavés 53,4
© Presse Sports
On 7th February, the world of cycling lost one of its maestros, Franco Ballerini, who died on the tracks of a motor rally in Larciano (Toscane) in which he was a co-pilot.
The Italian rider gave some especially noteworthy performances on Paris-Roubaix, which he won twice (1995 and 1998), after having suffered a particularly painful defeat by Duclos-Lassalle in 1993. Indeed it was at the cycling stadium in Roubaix that the “dancer of the cobbles” brought his career to an end in 2001. In tribute to his memory, a unique cobble will be awarded to the first Italian rider to cross the finishing line on Sunday afternoon.
CLEANLINESS A PRIORITY FOR THE REGION
Each year, the Paris-Roubaix route welcomes tens of thousands of spectators. As a major partner of the race, the Nord Pas de Calais region has restructured refuse collection organisation for the busiest zones, in order to protect the environment at these emblematic sites of northern French heritage. As a result, six containers will be placed at the Carrefour de l’Arbre sector, whilst 8,000 refuse bags will be distributed over the whole of the route. At the same time, a public awareness campaign is being conducted: in the press via the newspapers La Voix du Nord and Nord Éclair, and in the field by bike-riding “mediators” who will be there to pass the message on to spectators.
A DOUBLE DOSE OF COBBLES
Although the season is traditionally closed after the Queen of the Classics, the pack will again have to deal with the cobbles this year, since they will be on the programme of the 3rd stage on the Tour de France, between Wanze and Arenberg-Porte du Hainaut. To assist the reconnaissance work for teams wishing to test themselves with a view to the Tour, the race organisers have decided to signpost the last 45 kilometres of the stage in question. The Tour pack will have started to get the shakes on a 350-metre section at Ormeignies. Next will come two other cobbled sectors within Belgium’s borders, at Hollain (1,200-metres long) and Rongy (700-metres long). Afterwards, July’s riders will have to tackle four sections of the Paris-Roubaix route, but in the opposite direction this time: Sars-et-Rosières (2,400-metres long), Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes (2,500-metres long), Wandigny-Hamage (3,700-metres long) and Haveluy (2,300-metres long). On completion of the last section, there will only be 7 kilometres left for any stragglers to close the gaps before the finishing line, located in front of the former mining site at Wallers-Arenberg.
29 KILOMETRES OF COBBLES FOR THE JUNIORS
In addition to the elite race, the Vélo Club de Roubaix Lille Métropole is organising the 8th edition of the Paris-Roubaix Juniors on Sunday. It is the 5th leg of the world cup in this category and starter’s orders will be given at Saint-Amand-les-Eaux. With this event reserved for national teams, 20 squads have been invited from 19 different countries (2 French teams will be present at the starting line). The 140 riders expected will fight it out over 122-km, including 29 km of cobbles, which correspond to the last 16 sectors which the professionals will ride over. Just like for their elders, the finishing line for the juniors is located at the Roubaix cycling stadium, at approximately 2.30 pm. As regards the roll of honour for the event, Geraint Thomas (SKY) is the only former winner present in the “big” race this year.
© Presse Sports
A date with history is a difficult challenge, even for outstanding champions. On the 108th edition, Tom Boonen can grab the opportunity to reach the top of the roll of honour on the Paris-Roubaix, equal with Roger de Vlaeminck, four times winner in the nineteen-seventies.
Often designated as a favourite to win, the most prolific of modern Belgian riders has rarely disappointed on the Queen of the classics, since his first victory in 2005. With imperial triumphs in 2008 and 2009, the master of the cobbles could, if he wins, achieve a hat-trick only ever accomplished before by Octave Lapize (in 1909-10-11) and Francesco Moser (in 1978-79-80). However, the road to success will be bumpy one for Boonen. Whilst over time he has learned to tame the Trouée de Wallers-Arenberg, the sector around Mons-en-Pévèle or even the Carrefour de l’Arbre, he still needs to find a way of containing the attacks of his most serious rivals. Recent experience on the Tour of Flanders has confirmed that the most dangerous of all will probably be Fabian Cancellara, who is readying himself to pick up a heroic Flanders-Roubaix double.
After a breathtaking display on the Mur de Grammont climb, the Swiss champion is expected to block Boonen’s route to victory, but the work that he will have to put in will not just be restricted to a duel with the title holder. Among the regulars in the leading places who are still looking for a triumph on the cobbles, Cancellara will certainly be keeping an eye on Thor Hushovd, Leif Hoste, Juan-Antonio Flecha or also Alessandro Ballan. The 2010 vintage could also herald a return to the top in Roubaix by the French riders, with Steve Chainel and William Bonnet, who will endeavour to stand out from the pack, just like Frédéric Guesdon or Yoann Offredo. Yet, if Tom Boonen is looking for good omens, a historical reminder shows that De Vlaeminck, nicknamed The Gypsy, won his fourth title when he was 29 years old, exactly the same age as his heir apparent is now.
Team Milram (MRM): Knaven (Hol), Terpstra (Hol)
Omega Pharma-Lotto (OLO): Hoste (Bel), Van Avermaet (Bel)
Quick Step (QST): Boonen (Bel), Devolder (Bel)
Team Saxo Bank (SAX): Cancellara (Swi), Breschel (Dan), O’Grady (Aus)
Caisse d’Epargne (GCE): Coyot (Fra)
Euskaltel - Euskadi (EUS): Isasi (Spa), Sicard (Fra)
BMC Racing Team (BMC): Ballan (Ita), Burghardt (Ger), Hincapie (USA)
Garmin-Transitions (GRM): Farrar (USA), Millar (GB)
Team HTC-Columbia (THR): Bak (Den), Eisel (Aut)
Team RadioShack (RSH): Popovych (Ukr), Rosseler (Bel)
Team Sky (SKY): Flecha (Spa)
AG2R La Mondiale (ALM): Mondory (Fra), Hinault (Fra)
Bbox Bouygues Telecom (BBO): Chainel (Fra), Bonnet (Fra)
Cofidis, le Crédit en ligne (COF): Ista (Bel)
Française des Jeux (FDJ): Guesdon (Fra), Offredo (Fra)
Saur-Sojasun (SAU): Casper (Fra), Engoulvent (Fra)
Acqua & Sapone (ASA): Paolini (Ita)
Androni Giocattoli (AND): Bertogliati (Swi)
Lampre-Farnese Vini (LAM): Bernucci (Ita)
Liquigas-Doimo (LIQ): Quinziato (Ita)
Rabobank (RAB): Boom (Hol), Posthuma (Hol)
Skil-Shimano (SKS): Veelers (Hol)
Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team (VAC): Leukemans (Bel), Westra (Hol)
Katusha Team (KAT): Ivanov (Rus), Pozzato (Ita)
Cervélo Test Team (CTT): Hushovd (Nor), Hammond (GB)
Based on the reconnaissance of the course carried out on April 6th by Christian Prudhomme and Jean-François Pescheux, the organisers have attributed the degree of difficulty for each of the 27 cobblestone sectors of the race, evaluated by length, irregularity and the general state of each section and its location.
27. Troisvilles (km 97,5 - 2200 m) +++
26. Viesly (km 104 - 1800 m) +++
25. Quievy (km 107 - 3700 m) ++++
24. Saint-Python (km 111,5 - 1500 m) ++
23. Vertain (km 119,5 - 2300 m) +++
22. Capelle-sur-Ecaillon – Le Buat (km 126 – 1700 m) +++
21. Verchain-Maugré - Quérénaing (km 138 – 1600 m) +++
20. Querenaing - Maing (km 141,5 – 2500 m) +++
19. Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon (km 144,5 - 1600 m) +++
18. Haveluy (km 156 – 2500 m) ++++
17. Trouée d’Arenberg (km 164 – 2400 m) +++++
16. Hornaing - Wandignies (km 176,5 – 3700 m) +++
15. Warlaing - Brillon (km 184 – 2400 m) +++
14. Tilloy - Sars-et-Rosières (187,5 – 2400 m) +++
13. Beuvry-la-Forêt à Orchies (km 193,5 – 1400m) +++
12. Orchies (km 198,5 – 1700 m) +++
11. Auchy-lez-Orchies - Bersée (km 205 – 2600 m) +++
10. Mons-en-Pévèle (km 210,5 – 3000 m) +++++
9. Mérignies – Pont-à-Marcq (km 216,5 – 700 m) ++
8. Pont-Thibaut (km 219,5 – 1400 m) +++
7. Templeuve l’Epinette (km 225 – 200 m) +
Le Moulin de Vertain (km 225,5 – 500 m) ++
6. Cysoing - Bourghelles (km 232 – 1300 m) ++++
Bourghelles – Wannehain (km 234,5 – 1100 m) ++++
5. Camphin-en-Pévèle (km 239 – 1800 m) ++++
4. Le Carrefour de l’Arbre (km 242 – 2100 m) +++++
3. Gruson (km 244 – 1100 m) ++
2. Hem (km 251 – 1400 m) +
1. Roubaix (km 258 – 300 m) +
Roger Hammond© Presse Sports
Marc Madiot© Presse Sports
Keeping pace with the best on Paris-Roubaix is not within the reach of just any old rider. The Hell of the North is a race for specialists. It is only tamed by the hard, painless, powerful and skilful, who have pinpointed the event as one of their objectives for the season. Letour.fr has spoken to two Paris-Roubaix experts to try and draw up the ideal rider’s profile for winning on the cobbles.
Marc Madiot (two times winner of Paris-Roubaix, in 1985 and 1991)
“First of all you need the right build for the cobbles – not too light, a good size and reasonable weight, but more importantly good stability on the saddle. Mind you, the most important quality is in your head: you have to want to get out there and do it. Paris-Roubaix is about desire. It’s not just a race where you can look to score a good result. You have to like it.
Don’t talk to me about luck: I just don’t think it comes into the equation. You have to know how to avoid getting a puncture, which means thinking about the bike before yourself. You need to stay calm to tackle the cobbles, and avoid simply 'beasting' it as we say. Finally, I personally think the ideal cobbles rider is Tom Boonen”.
Roger Hammond (Cervélo, 3rd in the 2004 edition)
“The most important thing is being able to lead the pack and create your own luck. If you’re in the leading positions, you avoid incidents and unpredictable impacts on the cobbles. This means you need to concentrate and have plenty of endurance, something which comes with age. The pedal speed is also very specific: you need very regular power. My time spent in cyclo-cross was a great help, because it taught me to never panic. My pedalling style isn’t very orthodox but it’s efficient on the cobbles. The same can be said for a rider like Boonen. I think that Marc Cavendish, when he decides to get stuck into it, will be very good on Paris-Roubaix. Cancellara is somewhat of an exception with his time-trialist style, but he has so much power. In physical terms, you shouldn’t be too high up on the saddle. You need to keep a low centre of gravity to give better stability and smoothness. In my opinion, the ideal rider would be a small one with plenty of power. Of course, you have to like it, as well. It’s a race that relies a lot on your attitude”.
As a result, to be “Mr. Cobbles”, a rider requires several specific and essential qualities. However, it would seem that the key to success is talent and outstanding determination. Winning in Roubaix is first and foremost a champion’s privilege. Multiple winners of the Tour such as Louison Bobet, Fausto Coppi, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault also wrote their names on the roll of honour for the Queen of the Classics. Some even hated it so much they wanted to conquer it!
Following is the list of 25 teams selected to take part in the 108th Paris-Roubaix starting from Compiegne on April 12:
THE 25 INVITED TEAMS
Team Milram (MRM)
Omega Pharma-Lotto (OLO)
Quick Step (QST)
Team Saxo Bank (SAX)
Caisse d’Epargne (GCE)
Euskaltel - Euskadi (EUS)
BMC Racing Team (BMC)
Team HTC-Columbia (THR)
Team RadioShack (RSH)
Team Sky (SKY)
AG2R La Mondiale (ALM)
Bbox Bouygues Telecom (BBO)
Cofidis, le Credit en ligne (COF)
Francaise des Jeux (FDJ)
Acqua & Sapone (ASA)
Androni Giocattoli (AND)
Lampre-Farnese Vini (LAM)
Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team (VAC)
Katusha Team (KAT)
Cervelo Test Team (CTT)
Franco Ballerini© Presse Sports
Sometimes it’s easy to recognise a silhouette, a posture or an attitude. On the Paris-Roubaix, it can happen that behind a mask of mud and underneath a grimy jersey, observers can spot a rider thanks to the way he cycles and the power he exudes on the trickiest parts of the route. Franco Ballerini, who died last Sunday whilst taking part as a co-pilot in a motor rally, was indeed this type of champion.
During his career, he was able to a tame the Queen of the classics by dint of perseverance and hard work, becoming one of the most deserving custodians of the “spirit of the cobbles”. Before winning Paris-Roubaix, Ballerini had to suffer for his art on this race, with defeat at the hands of Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle at the cycling arena in 1993. However, he turned the despair he felt at this setback into a driving force. Two years later, in spite of a shoulder injured on the Gand-Wevelgem race, he pulled off a superb solo number as the “dancer on the cobbles” over the last 30 kilometres of the event, finally achieving victory. In 1998, it was with a lead of more than four minutes that he beat his nearest pursuer, Andrea Tafi, picking up his second title in Roubaix. Finally, in 2001, it was on the scene of his finest achievements that Franco Ballerini drew his career to a close, dressed in a jersey on which he had taken the time to write “Thank you Roubaix”. This sign of recognition, worthy of the greatest and most courageous riders, is a fitting way of paying tribute to him now it is time to say farewell. “Thank you Ballerini” is an expression that will today be in all the minds of Paris-Roubaix fans and cycling enthusiasts. The race organisers, who held a minute’s silence accompanied by the pack competing in the Tour of Qatar, would like to express its sincere commiserations to his family and all his friends.